Chipotle on Tuesday announced the creation of Cultivate Next, a new venture that intends to make early investments in strategically aligned businesses that further the company’s mission of “Cultivate a Better World,” it said. .
Cultivate Next’s goal is to support seed-to-Series B-stage companies that can accelerate Chipotle’s strategic priorities such as running great restaurants, amplifying technology and innovation , advancing its Food With Integrity mission, and expanding consumer access and convenience. The new venture capital fund will have an initial size of $50 million and will be funded solely by Chipotle.
“We are exploring investments in emerging innovation that will improve the experience of our employees and customers, and most likely revolutionize the restaurant industry,” said Curt Garner, Chief Technology Officer of Chipotle. “Investing in forward-thinking companies that seek to drive meaningful change at scale will help accelerate Chipotle’s aggressive growth plans.”
READ MORE: Chipotle is heading to a small town near you
Chipotle recently began testing an artificially intelligent robot, Chippy, to cook its tortilla chips, as well as radio frequency identification (RFID) to trace and track ingredients in its restaurants. These measures aim to both increase efficiency and improve the human experience.
Chipotle is also tapping into a new scheduling tool that uses machine learning to create more efficient schedules and last year invested in leading self-driving delivery company Nuro.
Companies interested in collaborating with Chipotle through the new Cultivate Next venture capital fund can apply by emailing [email protected]
Fueled by digital and continued growth (Chipotle opened 215 new restaurants in 2021 and 78 in the fourth quarter alone), the brand’s total revenue last year grew 26.1% to 7.5 billions of dollars. Same-store sales increased 19.3% and digital sales increased 24.7% (45.6% of business).
In the fourth quarter, revenue increased 22%, year-over-year, to $2 billion, and comps increased 15.2%. Digital sales, even against the surge of 2021, grew 3.8% to 41.6% of sales ($811 million, with delivery mixing around 20%).
Chipotle’s full-year digital sales of $3.4 billion were nearly three and a half times what it brought in pre-COVID in 2019.